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Could liberal intervention really just have been a cover for US imperialism in the Middle East? Joe Glenton has some thoughts on the issue.

Talks with the Taliban are being set up, after all. Once upon a time, we were encouraged to believe the Taliban were the very acme of evil. They had webbed feet, one big eye in the middle, ate babies, publicly stoned Bambi’s mum, sponsored terrorists and gathered – Blofeld like – around large tables in hollowed out volcanoes, to receive their orders from Bin Laden and Mullah Omar as these two ne’er-do-wells stroked their fluffy white kitties.

Many years later, it became clear this was bollocks. An experienced commentator pointed out to me that when the West wanted to invade Afghanistan all the Taliban were evil. Later we learned – as occupying forces began to be knocked around a bit – that some of these irredeemable monsters were, in fact, ‘moderate’. Later still, as the insurgency reached neck deep, we were told that 90% of them were moderate.

So now, after years of rhetoric about how immoderate and resistant to peace the insurgent group is, they have, with western approval, opened an office in Qatar. Marines all over America should sob at the decade they have wasted kicking down the front doors of cowering Afghan families, bursting in and shouting ‘ANY UNRESOLVED WOMENS' RIGHTS ISSUES IN HERE, MOTHERFUCKERS?!’

How then will Cameron present this retreat to the families of dead servicemen?  If this was always how it would end, the bereft wives and mums might ask, why didn’t it happen years ago? What's next? Al 'Qaeda opening a restaurant in the Westfield centre?

Meanwhile, in a mysterious volcano built by Kellogg, Brown and Root in a wealthy suburb of Kabul… Hamid Karzai, a man dapper enough to rival the once long-time favourite son Muammar Gaddafi as a real-life Bond villain (albeit on our side, where villainous types really flourish), is angry. He is upset because he - President of Afghanistan, parachuted into power by the US and kept there through corrupt elections - has been excluded from the negotiations. He shakes his fist at his pool of ill-tempered, man-eating sticklebacks.

And all this has sprung from a liberal, humanitarian responsibility to intervene? Not imperialism, oh no, that’s a thing of the past. The head of  a sovereign, democratic state excluded by a foreign power from negotiations on internal matters! Not imperialism, that. No, no. Could you move please? You’re sitting on my pith helmet and I’m to disappear up the Khyber.

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